Irene (Frankoff) Flaxbeard
June 18, 1932 – February 4, 2019
The family will receive friends on Tuesday, Feb. 12th from 4pm to 7pm at the West Center Chapel, followed by VIGIL SERVICE at 7 pm. MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Wed., Feb. 13th at 10am at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 6116 Dodge St. Memorials will be directed by the family.
Irene Flaxbeard was born on June 18, 1932 in Omaha, Nebraska to Jennie and Frank Frankoff. She was the youngest of eight children: Tony, Fred, Grace, Sarah, Carmela, Margaret, and Lillian, who just recently entered heaven on January 4th. During her high school years at Omaha South High, Irene roller skated at the Crosstown Roller Rink. Her talent at artistic roller skating led her to tour throughout the United States and Canada. Missing her family, she returned to Omaha and held several positions at Brandeis, an insurance agency and a real estate company. She met her future husband, Don Flaxbeard, at 40 Bowl. On the way home, they stopped at Scarpello’s Lounge and enjoyed their very first dance. They continued dancing throughout their 64 years of marriage.
Don and Irene raised six children: Janet, Stephen, Elaine, Mark, Gary and Paul. Most of their early years were spent at their first home at 27th and Poppleton. The kids attended St. Peter’s Catholic School and Don and Irene were active in the parish. Sundays meant twelve o’clock mass followed by an early dinner of Irene’s delicious spaghetti and meatballs.
At this time, Irene began her 58-year career at Pat Carlson Dance Studio. She started out helping on Saturdays, and as the studio increased in size, she added more days. Irene and Pat became best friends and Irene enjoyed meeting the students, moms, and families at the studio. Lifetime friendships formed and recitals became a family affair. The studio ensemble looked forward to Margarita Wednesdays at Senior Matias and eventually at Romeo’s. The Carlson family showed a lot of love to their Aunt Irene.
Irene took great pride in her cooking and baking. No one ever left her home hungry. In addition to her spaghetti and meatballs, Irene was known for making pizza, Columba, sausage and peppers, Nonnie Jennie soup and more. She was an excellent baker of pies, fudge, cookies, and cakes. Her pinochle club delighted in her crème puffs. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were spent at either the Carlson or Flaxbeard homes. Yearly 4th of July celebrations meant a day at Peony Park with the Tatroe family and many other Italian relatives.
In the 1970s, the Flaxbeard family moved way far west to 51st Avenue. It was there that she earned the nickname Hurricane. Trying to keep track of six adolescent/teenage kids and their many friends was no small feat. Summers were made for swimming at Elmwood, evening football games in the front yard, followed by popcorn and soda on the Flaxbeard front stoop. Irene was delighted and relieved after each son and daughter graduated from Central High.
As the kids left the roost, Don and Irene had more freedom to pursue their loves of dining, dancing and listening to live music. They frequented Gorat’s and Ross’ Steakhouses, especially when the Gulizia Brothers played in the lounge. They became lifelong friends. Irene also became an avid power walker. She walked five to six miles a day, even after being diagnosed with bronchiectasis.
Vacations included family fishing trips to Minnesota, journeys to Houston/Galveston to visit the Parke family and to California to visit the west coast Flaxbeards, an occasional getaway to Vegas, a memorable stay in Hawaii, and fun cruises with family and friends when the Gulizia Brothers were on board.
Once the grandkids came, forget about it. The Hurricane was downgraded to a loving, gentle breeze. Nothing was better than holding her babies while swinging and singing to them on the front porch. As they matured, she delighted in their every achievement, and they delighted in her every visit. She and Don attended every event they possibly could. Great grandkids were icing on the cake. She couldn’t have been prouder of them.
During the last decade, Don and Irene continued their love of music by listening to Mike and his big band on Mondays at the Ozone Lounge and on Saturdays at Gorat’s with his quartet. Outside concerts featuring Soul Dawg was a favorite summer outing. They danced (when they were able) and got to see longtime friends and family. They also met many new friends.
Irene’s lungs weakened and her hospital visits became more frequent. She reluctantly retired from the studio after the 2016 recital where she received a standing ovation. Although she was vigilant in following treatment regiments, she became frail. During her last stay at the hospital, she decided she wanted no more tests, needles, breathing treatments and picc lines. She wanted rest. Irene entered the Josie Harper Hospice House on January 30th. She had a fabulous couple of days surrounded by family and dear friends. One of our favorite memories from this time was her making pizza with her granddaughters. Irene was grateful for the encouraging cards and Facebook posts. She felt the love of so many and wanted no one to worry about her. She passed onto the next world on February 4th, leaving a legacy of love, family, friendship, and an unforgettable smile.
Irene’s family would like to thank Doctors Cooney and Penn, the staffs at Methodist Hospital and the Josie Harper Hospice House. We appreciate your compassion, dedication, and professionalism. Phyllis Procopio, thank you for being mom’s hair stylist for 30+ years and honoring a final appointment at the hospice house. You helped keep her young. We would also like to give special recognition to Mark and Jo Ann Flaxbeard. They became loving and nurturing family caregivers, making sure Irene lived life to the fullest. Without you, we wouldn’t have gotten to enjoy Irene for 86 years, 231 days, 13 hours and 53 minutes. Love to all who made life so enjoyable for Irene that she would often say, “I’m not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to miss out on anything!”
Irene is survived by devoted husband, Donald Flaxbeard; daughters Janet (Tom) Jackson, Elaine (Michael) Gurciullo; sons Stephen Flaxbeard, Mark Flaxbeard (Jo Ann), Gary Flaxbeard (Christine), Paul Flaxbeard (Heather); grandchildren Brian Jackson (Jessika), Dan Jackson (Missy), Tim Jackson, Joseph Flaxbeard (Jana), Jennie Flaxbeard, John Paul Flaxbeard, Jack Flaxbeard, Michael Flaxbeard, Megan Flaxbeard, Sara Flaxbeard, Nick Flaxbeard, Grace Flaxbeard; great granddaughters Morgan and Avery Jackson; and great grandsons Parker Jackson and Leo Flaxbeard. She is also survived by Bob and Pat Carlson, Bob Flaxbeard, Roylyn Parke, and many nieces, nephews, family members and special friends.